February 20, 2018

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Picture Books: A Thailand Tale, A Ninja Adventure, & More | August 2017 Xpress Reviews

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Ayer, Jacqueline. The Paper-Flower Tree: A Tale from Thailand. illus. by Jacqueline Ayer. 40p. Enchanted Lion. Jun. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781592702244.

PreS-Gr 3 –When a stranger passes through a village in Thailand carrying a bamboo post adorned with bright synthetic flowers, a little girl called Miss Moon is so captivated that she pines for her own “paper-flower tree.” The child takes the black bead from the center of her one paper flower, plants it in the earth, and tends to it as though it were a living thing. The villagers warn that she is wasting her time, but Miss Moon maintains her simple and unwavering belief that a paper-flower tree will grow. The stranger returns to the village a year later and is confronted by Miss Moon, who has waited eagerly for her tree. She awakes the next day to find a tree standing just where she planted the black bead. The villagers explain that the stranger has simply given her his own, but Miss Moon has received her heart’s desire and happily refuses to believe them. Ayer’s bold use of primary colors and the thoughtfully and uniquely crafted faces of the villagers deliver readers directly into Miss Moon’s Thai community, while economical pencil strokes guide the eye to the most essential action in each scene and leave the rest to the imagination. As a character, Miss Moon is easily relatable; she is an everychild. Her resolve and stalwart faith will resonate with children, and their caregivers will find Miss Moon’s consuming passion for one hard-to-find object familiar. VERDICT This wish-fulfillment tale set in Thailand is a welcome addition to most collections.–Lauren Younger, New York Public Library

Costa, Maria S. How To Find a Friend. illus. by Maria S. Costa. 32p. Clarion. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544926783.

PreS-Gr 1 –Costa tackles the topic of friendship in a debut picture book that features a lonely squirrel and rabbit. Each creature is searching for a friend after moving into the local forest, but they just can’t seem to connect. Two sly worms attempt to help the pair by offering suggestions as Rabbit and Squirrel continue to narrowly miss bumping into one another. The linocut and digital media illustrations extend the text greatly with outlines of each character performing an activity while the other animal ponders. For example, Squirrel rows across the pond wondering “What if I’m the only animal in the wood?” as an outline of Rabbit is seen playing golf on the shoreline. A turn of the page reveals that Rabbit’s golf ball has hit the corner of Squirrel’s boat, causing a leak, as Rabbit tees off wondering “What if I’m all alone in the whole wide wood?” Young readers will find these continuing antics amusing, and will be able to predict with ease the near misses of the two animals. The two worms (one red and one blue, to match the colors of Rabbit and Squirrel) can be found on each page offering encouragements to their clueless companions. Finally, and predictably, Squirrel and Rabbit collide as they are walking and skating on the same path with a CRASH! Of course, they become immediate friends. VERDICT A fun and engaging storytime book that details the simplicity and complications of friendship.–Lisa Kropp, Lindenhurst Memorial Library, NY

Dean, James. Pete the Cat and the Tip-Top Tree House. illus. by James Dean. 32p. HarperCollins/Harper. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062404329; pap. $3.99. ISBN 9780062404312.

PreS-Gr 1 –Pete the Cat builds a tree house and invites his friends to play, but they think it is too small. Together they begin renovations, adding a bowling alley, arcade, skate park, wave pool, and more in preparation for a party. With so many entertainment choices, the friends are not spending time together, so they all climb down to play on the swings and sliding board. As the friends play near the huge tree house, adults will chuckle when Pete says, “I’m so glad it brought us all together.” While character names may prove initially tricky for the beginning reader, this friendship story will be enjoyed by Pete fans and beginning readers alike. VERDICT Large font, plenty of white space, colorful drawings, and a popular main character make this title a solid addition to early reader collections.–Ramarie Beaver, Plano Public Library System, TX

DiPucchio, Kelly. Littles: And How They Grow. illus. by AG Ford. 32p. Doubleday. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399555268.

Toddler-PreS –A rhyming love letter, posing as a picture book, that explains how quickly babyhood passes. The book starts with a baby swaddled in a bassinet and ends with kids waving goodbye as they get on a bus. Sweet rhyming text explains the different ways babies are cared for, “Littles are fed on soft laps and in chairs. They’re nursed and they’re spoon-fed cooked carrots and pears.” The bright illustrations set against a white background elevate the text and celebrate diversity. Showcasing babies, families, and caregivers of multiple races, Ford also shows a baby being breast-fed, carried in a sling, and playing with two mothers along with many other scenarios. The cover features three babies of distinctly different races and will appeal to anyone looking for some diversity on the shelves. This book should find a home in all libraries, and will likely become the go-to baby shower gift. VERDICT An excellent purchase for collections, storytimes, and gifts.–Brooke Newberry, La Crosse Public Library, WI

DiPucchio, Kelly. Super Manny Stands Up! illus. by Stephanie Graegin. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Jul. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481459600.

PreS-Gr 1 –Every day at home, Manny the raccoon dons a different color cape and becomes by turns fearless, strong, brave, powerful, and invincible. But Manny always saves his top secret undercover cape for school because it is invisible. So one day, when a classmate was being bullied by another, taller student, he works up the courage to intervene, inspiring his peers to remember their invisible capes. Soon they are all standing up against the bully. Young readers and listeners will be cheering for Manny’s heroic endeavors while subtly digesting a deeper message of antibullying. The pencil and ink drawings sweetly depict the childlike qualities of Manny and his animal classmates. VERDICT This wonderful read-aloud is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Recommended.–Jessica Marie, Salem Public Library, OR

Doi, Kaya. Chirri & Chirra: In the Tall Grass. tr from Japanese by Yuki Kaneko. illus. by Kaya Doi. 40p. Enchanted Lion. Jun. 2017. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781592702251.

PreS-Gr 2 –Take a fantastical voyage through a luscious green meadow with rosy-red cheeked Chirri and Chirra. In this second book about the twins, the girls are yet again only distinguishable because one has blue buttons on her dress and the other has red. It is in these tiny details that Doi excels. The use of color pencils to masterfully guide readers on a leisurely paced tour is reminiscent of days gone by. “Dring-dring, dring-dring!” goes the bicycles, and magically the twins become tiny. They follow a bee to eat a delicious honey cake, flower chafers to drink juice made of “yumberry fruit and raspberry pulp,” a lizard to eat fluorite candies, and finally fireflies back to their own house. Doi creates an enchanted world that harkens back to a quieter time. There is never any sense of danger or anxiety, either in the artwork or in the spare poetic text. Through pacing and a soft-focus lens, pale cream-colored pages in a small rectangular format, and the bleed over onto the next page, Doi sets the tone of a gentle read. Nature is celebrated in a bucolic setting. In this dollhouse come to life, children will enjoy picking hidden surprises out from the illustratons. This book is best enjoyed one-on-one, so readers can luxuriate in the artistic nuances. Careful observers will notice that the endpapers serve as a map for the twins’ journey. VERDICT A highly recommended purchase for any size collection where readers will delight in the whimsical nostalgic artwork.–Eva Thaler-Sroussi, Glencoe Public Library, IL

Facchini, Vittoria. 5 Cherries. illus. by Vittoria Facchini. 56p. Enchanted Lion. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781592702220.

PreS-Gr 3 –What would you do with five red cherries? Facchini follows two young siblings as they are each given five fresh red cherries. Is five cherries plenty or simply not enough? One child is immediately excited with the endless possibilities. The other is disappointed. Why so few? But their imaginations soon take over as they explore the many uses for their cherished cherries. “I’ll be a jester! And I’ll do a jiggety-jester-jig,” says one sibling. The other declares: “I’ll share mine with my friends. Everything’s ready. They’re coming to tea.” As the pages turn, the children seem to blend together, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell one from the other. By the end, both the children and readers are left wanting more. The bright, floral paintings, beginning and ending on the inside covers, are bursting with color to help give life to this inventive tale. The engagingly stylized pictures dance across plain white pages and tell a story of their own. In the end, readers are left wondering at the possibilities of just five more minutes. VERDICT A thought-provoking and imaginative story that is beautifully illustrated. Best shared one-on-one or with a small group.–Elizabeth Blake, Brooklyn Public Library

Garton, Sam. Otter: Let’s Go Swimming! illus. by Sam Garton. 32p. HarperCollins/Harper. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062366641; pap. $3.99. ISBN 9780062366634.

PreS-Gr 1 –Otter is going to the beach! She’s eager to learn to swim, but once there, fear gets in the way. Otter says that her stuffed toys are afraid to swim, but readers will know that it is Otter herself who needs the encouragement. Fortunately, Otter Keeper (her human friend) is there to help, and soon Otter doesn’t want to leave. Young readers will relate to Otter’s fear of the water, reflected in her worried expressions. While the sentences are somewhat perfunctory, the simple vocabulary and repetition of words, as well as the large black font, white space, and colorful drawing-style illustrations, are spot-on for an early reader. VERDICT With its relatable main character and illustrations that match the simple text, this early reader is a solid addition to the series.–Ramarie Beaver, Plano Public Library System, TX

Greenway, Beth. A True Princess of Hawai‘i. ISBN 9781628559484; ISBN 9781628559491.

––––. Una verdadera Princesa de Hawái. ISBN 9781628559507.

ea vol: illus. by Tammy Yee. 32p. Arbordale. Feb. 2017. pap. $9.95.

Gr 1-3 –When lava begins to flow down the volcano Mauna Loa, Nani rushes to greet Princess Luka, who is making the journey to appease the volcano’s goddess, Pele. Along the way, Nani shows kindness to an elderly woman who is looking for something to eat and to a horse who is struggling. Nani offers a piece of her red petticoat—her only nice petticoat—when Princess Luka needs a red handkerchief to offer to Pele. The next day, as Princess Luka leaves the town and the lava has stopped flowing, Nani realizes that the woman she came across the day before might just have been the goddess herself. Large, bold text and lovely illustrations make this book flow easily in both English and Spanish, and bonus material including information about volcanos, Princess Luka, and Mauna Loa make this work even more valuable. A good story about the importance of kindness. VERDICT Recommended for most collections.–Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

Grimm, Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm. Rapunzel. illus. by Maja Dusíková. 32p. Floris. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781782503828.

K-Gr 4 –In this classic story by the Grimm brothers, a husband and wife long for a child, but then make a second-rate deal with an enchantress that results in their daughter being shut away from the outside world and ultimately abandoned by her captor. Though the family is never reunited, much heartache does end in a happily ever after when Rapunzel heals her prince and travels with him to his homeland. This simple translation in a large, clear font is well paired with gentle, ethereal watercolor illustrations in muted tones. Figures are depicted in clusters and distinct poses rather than natural stances, each tableau imparting the sense that readers are witnessing a play rather than a live-action sequence of events. The softly washed paintings, frequent inclusion of soaring birds, and fluid posturing of each figure alleviate some of the sense of danger that might have accompanied more violent parts of the story. The coloring, facial expressions, and physical positions are also subdued. The enchantress appears more sad than aggressive or evil; Rapunzel’s pregnant mother has a wistful and melancholy countenance; and even at their happiest, Rapunzel and her prince are so calm and demure that one can imagine them hoping for a better life together. VERDICT A conventionally told and illustrated version of Rapunzel that is a welcome addition to large fairy tale collections needing a crisp copy of this beloved classic.–Lauren Younger, New York Public Library

Harrison, Ted. A Northern Alphabet. illus. by Ted Harrison. 28p. Tundra. Feb. 2017. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781101918968.

PreS –Originally published as a picture book in 1982, this board book introduces toddlers to the landscape, people, and wildlife of the Yukon. Each letter of the alphabet appears in upper- and lowercase, and is accompanied by a brief narrative sentence, from “Alex lives in the Arctic. He is wearing an anorak” to “In zero weather, Zach makes a zigzag path to the zinc mine.” The alliterative words are also highlighted in the text. Acclaimed Canadian artist Harrison’s signature paintings capture the beauty and ruggedness of the North with broad brushstrokes, boldly outlined shapes, and vibrant colors. A white husky dog watches children play hockey on a bright blue frozen pond, with a hot pink ribbon sunset in the background. VERDICT This well-designed, sophisticated board book has wide appeal. –Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ont.

Isdahl, Nansubuga Nagadya. Sleep Well, Siba & Saba. illus. by Sandra van Doorn. 32p. Lantana Publishing. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781911373100.

PreS-Gr 2 –A charming picture book set in modern-day Uganda. Siblings Siba and Saba do everything in their own way: they lose stuff—quite regularly—and when they sleep, they find the lost things in their dreams. The story twists when, one night, the two sisters do not dream of their lost sweaters, silver sandals, and bedroom slippers. Instead, they dream of finding two unlikely objects: a silver shilling and a school uniform. When they wake up, they are surprised to discover more than they ever expected. The poetic voice of the text, along with the playful alliteration and delightful illustrations, conveys no sense of the anguish of losing the cherished belongings. Siba and Saba lose things gracefully and find them effortlessly. The expressive and elegant artwork, with references to Ugandan tales makes the journey to the world of Siba and Saba more delightful. Unlike most lost-and-found stories, there is a new solution to the problem: no reason to be frantic over losing your stuff because it comes back in your dream. While the story starts with a strong sense of playing a game, toward the end the story line suddenly changes to a more earnest tone of what is good for your future. This unexpected shift fragments the story. VERDICT A comforting tale about loss and the ways of being found. Best shared one-on-one or in a small group setting.–Taraneh Matloob Haghanikar, University of Northern Iowa

Ishida, Sanae. Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet: An Adventure with Little Kunoichi the Ninja Girl. illus. by Sanae Ishida. 32p. Little Bigfoot. Jul. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781632171177.

PreS-Gr 2 –In this follow-up to Little Kunoichi, the Ninja Girl, Chibi Samurai envies his friend’s close relationship with her pet, the stupendous Ninja Bunny. Bunny and Little Kunoichi do many things together, causing Chibi to observe that: “A pet is a friend and a snuggly companion.” With map in hand, he sets off on a quest to find the perfect pet. The potential pets he considers are a hilarious mix of mythological and real, including a giant salamander, tanuki, water-dwelling kappa, macaque monkey, crane, and baby sasquatch. Each is unsuitable: the mischievous tanuki transforms into a fast car and zooms off; while the stinky, slimy kappa has a bad attitude toward humans. Cheered on by Little Kunoichi and Bunny, Chibi finally finds the perfect pet: a stag beetle, prized in Japan for its strength and loyalty. This surprise conclusion is likely to send readers flipping back through the pages for beetles and other clever details concealed among the illustrations. The watercolor art with pen and ink whimsically complement this well-told tale. A helpful page of factoids adds information on the Japanese animals and references in the story. VERDICT This delightful text expands on the fun and whimsy of the previous book and will leave readers eager for more adventures with Chibi and Little Kunoichi. –Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Jaramillo, Susie. The Birthday Book/Las mañanitas. illus. by Susie Jaramillo. 24p. Encantos. Jun. 2017. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781945635076. BL

PreS-K –An accordion-style board book with darling, colorful illustrations, The Birthday Book/Las mañanitas is sure to appeal to the preschool crowd. The book illustrates the lyrics of the traditional Mexican birthday song, “Las Mañanitas,” in Spanish and in English. The characters are an adorable bunny and several animal friends. Open the book one way and you have the Spanish version, turn the book over and you have the English version. Identical for both versions, the illustrations enhance the opportunity for second language enrichment. They are brightly colored with prominent yellows and blues, and include several flaps for children to lift and further interact with this delightful little book. One of the spreads features a piñata, which provides an opportunity to discuss this traditional game. Of course, accompanying this book with the song “Las Mañanitas” would make it even more entertaining. José-Luis Orozco, a famous children’s recording artist, has a lovely version of the tune on his album De colores. VERDICT A great addition to bilingual preschool classrooms and public library collections.–Katie Darrin, Boulder Valley School District, CO

Jennings, Terry Catasús. Vivian and the Legend of the Hoodoos. ISBN 9781628559576; ISBN 9781628559583.

––––. Vivian y la leyenda de los hoodoos. ISBN 9781628559590.

ea vol: illus. by Phyllis Saroff. 32p. Arbordale. Feb. 2017. pap. $9.95. BL

Gr 1-3 –Vivian and her grandmother are harvesting pine nuts as they have every year, but this year Vivian is impatient. Basketball tryouts are in a few hours, and to save time, she begins to throw the cones carelessly into her bucket instead of asking the trees for their permission to be picked. Vivian is reminded of the legend of the hoodoos, the tall rock columns who had been bad and turned to rock as a result. Vivian’s grandmother reminds her of the many ways the land has helped them and their ancestors, and of why they should always respect their environment. An informative section on Paiute culture and history, weathering and erosion, and hoodoos is included. Beautiful illustrations and clear text make this accessible to young readers. VERDICT Recommended for most picture book collections.–Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

Klein, Zoë. The Goblins of Knottingham: A History of Challah. illus. by Beth Rogert. 32p. Apples & Honey. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781681155265.

PreS-Gr 2 –In the town of Knottingham, there are three little, green, and mean goblins named Knotty, Knotsalot, and Notnow who create mischief by tangling children’s hair. Every night the children are miserable as their parents attempt to comb out their messy manes, so together they come up with a plan. Patty Punchitdown, Haley Honeydrizzle, Franklyn Frenchtoast and the others wear hats to protect themselves from the goblins. All except Ryan Raisin, who plops a piece of dough on his head instead. Thinking it’s hair, the goblins dive in and get stuck. The children quickly braid the dough tightly so the goblins cannot escape. They threaten to bake them, but when the goblins promise to never again tangle hair, the children release them. The story concludes: “Every Friday since then, the people of Knottingham have made braided, sweet bread called challah to celebrate the end of another tangle free week of school.” The text states that the story takes place “long ago,” and the bright, whimsical, and expressive illustrations depict castles and towers. However, the children and adults are all dressed in contemporary clothes, attending a typical, modern school. The connection to the traditional rituals and customs of the Jewish Sabbath is the missing ingredient, preventing this challah tale from rising to the top. VERDICT While the author’s note claims that the story builds on Judaism’s rich tradition of goblin legends, the silly mash-up of Robin Hood, goblins, and Shabbat into a supposed “History of Challah” tale is too far-fetched. Strictly additional.–Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL

Lester, Helen. Boris and the Worrisome Wakies. illus. by Lynn Munsinger. 32p. HMH. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544640948.

PreS-Gr 1 –Boris cannot get with the badger schedule. Instead of sleeping all day, Boris is awake and squirming all about. Then, when it is time to get up and go to school, Boris is too tired to do anything. As Boris sleeps through school, the reader gets to see all the fun things he is missing out on, like gym, art, music, and lunch. After Boris’s sleeping at school routine is set, his classmates and teacher quit trying to include him in their fun activities. After hearing about all the fun activities he is missing—like field day, the school play, and the class picture—Boris decides to get it together and sleep all day so he can learn and have fun at school all night. After a full day’s sleep, Boris is a new badger, ready to participate in school. What a difference a good day’s sleep makes. The art is beautiful, and the text is skillfully arranged around the drawings to help readers follow the action. This is a well-illustrated story, but much of the treatment of Boris by his schoolmates could be described as mean and mocking. While this eventually causes a change in Boris’s behavior, the book shows a lot of mistreatment of the main character. VERDICT Schools sensitive to bullying messages may be wary of this book due to the taunting and teasing that happens when Boris is too tired to participate.–Nicole Detter-Smith, Homestead High School, IN

Long, Matty. Super Slug of Doom: A Super Happy Magic Forest Story. illus. by Matty Long. 32p. Scholastic. Jul. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338054354.

K-Gr 2 –Out of prophecy is born a legend in the entertaining sequel to Super Happy Magic Forest. Long’s latest parody of the hero’s quest sees his band of unlikely heroes reunite to stop an ancient evil, Zorgoth, super slug of doom, from attaining unstoppable power. To do so, they must traverse many lands (such as Slug Swamp) and overcome great challenges (crossing a bridge despite rope burn) before facing their foe in a final funny showdown. Long creates humor namely by contrasting the tone, as established by the standard quest narration, with funny scenarios that are digitally illustrated in a rainbow of colors. On most spreads, readers can expect to find a brief description of what is happening, fairy tale creatures saying and doing random things meant to amuse, a green trail of slime leading from one edge to the other, and the group engaging in acts of “heroism.” Some pages also contain a find-the-item game for added pleasure; hidden Viking penguins, for example, are little nods to the first book. VERDICT Elementary-age kids who enjoy a good quest will love this parody with its unusual heroes and added layers of fun.–Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ont.

Saltzberg, Barney. Chengdu Can Do. illus. by Barney Saltzberg. 48p. Disney-Hyperion. Jul. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484758472.

K-Gr 2 –Little Chengdu, a baby panda, is at the stage where he can do many things alone. He is growing up and becoming so independent that he probably does not even want to be called little. This story, with its calming background shades of pastel blues, calls to mind preschoolers who politely say “no” or “I can do it all by myself.” This is, in fact, only partly true, as Chengdu realizes by the end of the story. Even though he can’t do everything, each day is a new adventure because he is discovering more things that he is able to do alone. For example, he can find his breakfast. Chengdu feels proud. He is adventurous and curious about the world—but he still needs help. The book teaches readers how to be humble, interdependent, compassionate, and empathetic. VERDICT This well-written story with simple text and illustrations has the tone and appeal of The Little Red Hen and the Grain of Wheat.–Gwen Collier, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, NY

Todd-Stanton, Joe. The Secret of Black Rock. illus. by Joe Todd-Stanton. 40p. Flying Eye. Jun. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781911171256.

K-Gr 3 –In this girl-power import from the UK, Erin lives with her mum (a fisherwoman) and dog Archie near a big fishing town. She cannot go out to sea because of the danger; villagers tell of the mysterious Black Rock that “never stays in the same place….It’s big as a mountain and sharp as a swordfish!” When Erin hides away on her mum’s boat, she tumbles overboard and comes face to face—literally—with a creature. The black rock outcropping is the top of its head, and its body serves as a reef for all sorts of sea animals. The Black Rock brings her safely home, but there is more work to do; the villagers are set on destroying it and have equipped boats with claws and drills for that purpose. Determined to stop them, Erin jumps onto Black Rock’s “nose” and shines a light that attracts sea life to the surface. “In that moment, they [the villagers] saw how wrong they were.” The ecological importance of such a creature is highlighted by the unironic construction of a lighthouse on Black Rock to protect it from wayward boats. Todd-Stanton’s sketchy illustrations are colored with photoshop and have a retro feel. Printed on heavy matte stock, it’s a visceral pleasure to read. Readers will be able to fill in the short expository narrative by poring over the drawings’ depictions of Black Rock’s underwater existence. VERDICT A fun adventure for large collections.–Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence

Vásquez, Paula. Lily Wool. illus. by Paula Vásquez. 40p. Gibbs Smith. Jul. 2017. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781423647287.

PreS-Gr 2 –Lily Wool is a black-and-white sheep with a mind of her own and a colorful imagination. She sees the world from her own point of view, which sets her apart from the rest of the herd. She finds a thread of wool and uses it to become an excellent gymnast, a fast rider, and a lasso-throwing protector of the herd. When her inner strength and confidence get out of hand, Lily taps into her imaginative problem-solving skills to create something unique and useful. This makes Lily victorious and heroic. The simple cartoonlike sheep are set on colorful graphic-style backdrops; Lily is expressive and endearing. VERDICT This ode to imagination and creativity is perfect as a read-aloud and highly recommended for one-on-one and small group sharing. –Gwen Collier, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, NY

Virján, Emma J. What This Story Needs Is a Vroom and a Zoom. illus. by Emma J. Virján. 40p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jul. 2017. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780062494313.

PreS-Gr 1 –Pig in a Wig returns for a cross-country race in the latest addition to the early reader series. Pig is in a car race with Goose and Donkey, but an accident lands Pig (with her signature red beehive wig) in the mud. Fortunately, the crew is ready to help Pig out and get her on the way so the story can have “a vroom, a zoom, a whoosh, and a wheeeee,” resulting in Pig’s first-place finish. A celebratory victory lap completes the tale. While a few words are altered to reflect the energy of the story (“hisssss” and “rooaarr”), it shouldn’t prove too difficult for readers to decode with help. Colorful black-outlined illustrations, a large black serif font, well-maintained rhyme, and many action verbs will work well for the beginning reader. VERDICT Another solid entry in this early reader series featuring Pig in a Wig rhyming her way to a win..–Ramarie Beaver, Plano Public Library System, TX

Wahi, Ellen. Full Moon Lore. illus. by Ashley Stewart. 32p. Sleeping Bear. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781585369652.

PreS-Gr 2 –This picture book takes readers through a calendar year of full moons. A cursory introduction explains, “People long ago kept track of the seasons by giving each full moon a special name.” Each month’s unique moon is identified, from January’s Wolf Moon, to June’s Strawberry Moon, to December’s Cold Moon, and closing with the additional Blue Moon. The lyrical text briefly explores the lunar lore behind the names: as April’s Pink Moon heralds the arrival of spring blossoms, “It was believed that the moon used his hand to sprinkle the ground with seeds.” Stewart’s full-page realistic illustrations capture many atmospheric details of the changing seasons and the resulting effect on wildlife. November’s spread depicts the Hunter Moon illuminating ploughed fields full of rolled bales of hay as an owl and a fox search for food in the foreground. An end page includes nine assorted scientific facts about the moon, as well as a summary list of the full moon names noted. However, there are no source notes as to the cultural origins of the names selected. VERDICT This poetic treatment works best as a general introduction to the topic.–Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ont.


This article was published in School Library Journal's August 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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